16 Recipes from Chef Kwame Onwuachi to Make Again and Again

Crab and Shrimp Étouffée
Photo: Photo by Greg DuPree / Food Styling by Rishon Hanners / Prop Styling by Christina Daley

Food & Wine Executive Producer and 2019 Best New Chef Kwame Onwuachi has established an impressive culinary career over the years, from winning the James Beard Foundation's Rising Star Chef of the Year award in 2019 to releasing his first cookbook, My America: Recipes from a Young Black Chef, this month. He's competed on and appeared as a guest judge for Top Chef as well, and even collaborated with Orly on a nail polish collection that you can wear while you cook.

Throughout his career, Onwuachi has also developed a collection of delicious recipes that we keep coming back to—we've gathered them here so you can try them at home. Several of the dishes you'll find are from trips he took to trace his culinary roots in Jamaica, Trinidad, Texas, and Louisiana, such as an Escovitch Snapper recipe inspired by his time in Jamaica and his Biscoff Banana Pudding recipe, inspired by the one his aunt Yolanda makes. Many recipes are from My America as well, including Chin Chin and Curried Goat. And if you were a fan of his waffle fries from his pop-ups and at Kith/Kin in D.C., we've got his recipe for those, too. Read on for more recipes from Onwuachi.

01 of 16

Cucumber-Avocado Salad with Gooseberry Piri Piri Soup

Cucumber Avocado Salad
Greg DuPree

Onwuachi's bright, summery salad of tomatoes, cucumbers, gooseberries, avocado, and mint might seem simple at first, but stand back. With its Trinidadian Green Seasoning (which delivers a sinus-clearing wallop of fresh ginger and fruity aromatics from the Scotch bonnet chiles) and an irresistible, tangy, gazpacho-like Gooseberry Piri Piri (you will want to drink a basin of it), this 30-minute recipe is next-level delicious. Serve very cold.

02 of 16

Gooseberry Piri Piri

Gooseberry Piri Piri
Greg DuPree

Fresh, ripe gooseberries are sweet and richly flavored, with an almost boozy aftertaste. The grape-like berries are balanced out here by some mildly spicy jalapeños and fresh herbs. They add a sweet dimension to bracing, piquant (and incredibly tasty) piri piri sauce, which takes its tart flavor from lemon and lime, and a refreshingly vegetal dimension from a healthy dose of ripe bell peppers and tomatoes. Onwuachi serves it in his recipe for Cucumber-Avocado Salad with Gooseberry Piri Piri, but it also is a fantastic substitute for Bloody Mary mix or as a sauce for ceviche.

03 of 16

Trinidadian Green Seasoning

Trinidadian Green Seasoning
Greg DuPree

This blend of fresh herbs and aromatics is certainly spicy, but well-balanced by cooling celery and cilantro. Be sure to wear gloves while seeding and removing the ribs from the Scotch bonnet peppers, as their capsaicin sticks to the skin and can sting. Try this seasoning in Onwuachi's Cucumber-Avocado Salad with Gooseberry Piri Piri and Spicy Cumin-Braised Pork.

04 of 16

Spicy Cumin-Braised Pork

Spicy Cumin-Braised Pork Recipe
Photo by Greg DuPree / Prop Styling by Christine Keely / Food Styling by Chelsea Zimmer

Just a tablespoon of Onwuachi's Pepper Sauce brings plenty of heat, and tenderizing flavor, to this reverse-braised pork shoulder. As the liquid, and delicious fat from the pork, cook off, the resulting Geera Pork is coated in a richly seasoned paste, perfect for eating with rice or bara flatbreads.

05 of 16

Kwame's Escovitch Snapper

Escovitch Snapper
Photo by Caitlin Bensel / Food Styling by Emily Nabors Hall / Prop styling by Christine Keely

Inspired by his travels in Jamaica, Onwuachi shared this recipe for escovitch snapper. In Jamaica, escovitch fish—fish that's fried and then topped with pickled, thinly sliced vegetables—is everywhere. In Onwuachi's version, a garlicky marinade forms a crust as the fish cooks, adding flavor and keeping the snapper moist and tender, and a pickled tangle of thinly sliced chiles, carrot, and onion­ makes a punchy, crunchy topping for crispy fried whole snapper.

06 of 16

Chickpea Doubles with Tamarind and Scotch Bonnet Pepper Sauce

Chickpea Doubles with Tamarind and Scotch Bonnet Pepper Sauce Recipe
Photo by Greg DuPree / Prop Styling by Christine Keely / Food Styling by Chelsea Zimmer

Traditional Trinidadian doubles are served open-faced and quickly wrapped in wax paper, letting the bara steam, and keeping the spicy filling piping hot. Try leftover tamarind sauce in margaritas, drizzled over fresh mangoes, or with roast pork.

07 of 16

Kwame's Waffle Fries

Kwame's Waffle Fries
Kyle Schmitz

When Onwuachi was the executive chef at the now-closed Afro-Caribbean restaurant Kith/Kin, he served a crowd favorite from his pop-up days: waffle fries with berbere salt. The Ethiopian spice blend brings a citrusy sweet heat to the fried spuds, which emerge from the oil nice and golden brown.

08 of 16

Crab-and-Shrimp Étouffée

Crab and Shrimp Étouffée
Photo by Greg DuPree / Food Styling by Rishon Hanners / Prop Styling by Christina Daley

This étouffée recipe is inspired by Onwuachi's memories of his grandmother Cassie Phillips' definitive version of the dish. No flavor goes to waste—even shrimp shells are used to make the seafood stock. If using shelled shrimp, ask for six ounces of shells from the fish counter, or choose a high-quality fresh stock.

09 of 16

Scotch Bonnet Pepper Sauce

Scotch Bonnet Pepper Sauce Recipe
Photo by Greg DuPree / Prop Styling by Christine Keely / Food Styling by Chelsea Zimmer

Onwuachi's family recipe for pepper sauce highlights the sweet, floral notes of Scotch bonnet peppers with an upfront heat that doesn't linger, but lets the other flavors shine. Try leftovers on eggs, grilled fish, or in a creamy cabbage slaw.

10 of 16

Biscoff Banana Pudding

Banana Pudding
Photo by Greg DuPree / Food Styling by Rishon Hanners / Prop Styling by Christina Daley

The subtle spice of Biscoff cookies helps to balance the sweetness of each rich layer of creamy custard and fresh bananas in this tall and impressive banana pudding for a crowd. It's inspired by one made by Onwuachi's aunt Yolanda, of Beaumont, Texas. He tasted it on a trip to connect with his roots in Louisiana and Texas, and recreated the pudding in his own kitchen.

11 of 16

Kwame's Pepper Shrimp

Kwame's Pepper Shrimp
Photo by Caitlin Bensel / Food Styling by Emily Nabors Hall / Prop styling by Christine Keely

Infused with layers of heat from Scotch bonnet chiles and fresh ginger, Onwuachi's pepper shrimp are inspired by a beloved Jamaican street food. Deveining the shrimp but leaving the shell on helps protect against overcooking. Onwuachi fell in love with this recipe when traveling in Jamaica.

12 of 16

Jamaican Callaloo

Jamaican Callaloo
Photo by Greg Dupree / Food Styling by Chelsea Zimmer / Prop Styling by Claire Spollen

"What to call callaloo is a problem that has bedeviled Caribbean cooks forever," says Onwuachi, who shared this recipe from his book, My America. In Jamaica, the name refers both to the leafy greens of amaranth and the dish made from braising those leaves down in stock with aromatics.

Callaloo may be found at Caribbean grocery stores, but if you cannot find callaloo, Onwuachi recommends substituting a blend of spinach and collards: one medium (eight-ounce) bunch spinach, thick stems removed, leaves and tender stems roughly chopped (about 3 1/2 cups packed) and one small (eight-ounce) bunch collard greens, thick stems removed, leaves and tender stems roughly chopped (about 3 1/2 cups).

13 of 16

Curried Goat

Curried Goat
Photo by Greg Dupree / Food Styling by Chelsea Zimmer / Prop Styling by Claire Spollen

"Goat is at the center of many of Jamaica's best dishes, from mannish water (goat head soup) to this curry, which clearly exhibits the influences of the Indian subcontinent," says Onwuachi. "The same can be said in Trinidad, where goat doesn't just make a cameo but has a starring role. This curried goat is actually a hybrid of the Trini and Jamaican versions I remember. I've used Jamaican curry powder along with Trinidad's heavily aromatic green seasoning."

14 of 16

Louisiana Red Beans and Rice

Red Beans and Rice
Photo by Greg Dupree / Food Styling by Chelsea Zimmer / Prop Styling by Claire Spollen

"Everyone with roots in southern Louisiana, where red beans and rice is a staple, thinks that their mom makes the best version," says Onwuachi. "But I'm the only one who's right. Growing up, my mom used this recipe as a base, sometimes adding in smoked turkey necks or smoked, spiced, and cured tasso ham, in addition to the ham hocks and andouille sausage that impart their smoke, fat, and spice to the Holy Trinity (celery, bell peppers, and onions) and, of course, the sturdy red kidney beans." To read more about how Onwuachi takes inspiration from Louisiana foodways, and for more great Southern recipes like this, see his story, "In Her Footsteps."

15 of 16

Pollo Guisado

Pollo Guisado
Photo by Greg Dupree / Food Styling by Chelsea Zimmer / Prop Styling by Claire Spollen

"The soup all abuelitas make their grandchildren, cooking a ojo, or by feel, with a million variations," says Onwuachi of this comforting recipe. "I didn't have a Puerto Rican grandmother, so this version is a re-creation of the flavors I remember from places like Caridad and Louie's on Gun Hill Road, 188 Cuchifritos, and all the other lechonerias, cuchifritos, lunch counters, full-on restaurants, and street food vendors that nourish and restore the Bronx's massive Nuyorican population. The soup is a festival of comfort. At its base are the annatto and sofrito that define much of Puerto Rican cuisine, plus a touch of cumin and, because it's me who's making it, a bit of house spice to give just the merest hint of heat."

16 of 16

Chin Chin

Chin Chin
Photo by Greg Dupree / Food Styling by Chelsea Zimmer / Prop Styling by Claire Spollen

"The streets of Lagos Island are crowded with street vendors, including the chin chin stalls, generally run by women, which are nearly impossible to resist," says Onwuachi, who shared this snack recipe. "Chin chin are nutmeg-riddled fried puffs of dough, the Nigerian contribution to filling mankind's desire for crunchy, sweet snacks. From behind their tables, the chin chin sellers sold not just these addictive cookies but a whole menagerie of fried foods, foods whose crunch does double duty by helping to maintain their longevity in the hot sun."

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